Superpark 22 At Crystal Mountain Presented By Oakley—Day 1 Photo Highlights
words: Mary Walsh/Mark Clavin
photos: Andy Wright, E-Stone, Mike Yoshida, Oli Gagnon, Mary Walsh, Mark Clavin, Chris Wellhausen
It was snowing as darkness fell at Crystal Mountain at the end of day one of Superpark 22 presented by Oakley: big flakes descended in slow motion onto the rows of evergreens that line the mountainside at the base of the resort. It looked defiantly wintery for the second-to-last day of April—standard Washington weather this time of year. Luckily, the low temps were ideal grooming, and by the morning of day two, the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds and warming everything up. Springtime in the Cascades. The snow is fast, the take offs are pristine, and the sun comes out just enough to allow for jacket-less laps.
The second day of Superpark 22 started off quickly. The cadre of riders has continued to grow as Hana Beaman, Travis Parker, Austin Hironaka, Jacob Krugmire, Chase Josey, Ethan Morgan, Scott Blum, Ryan Wachendorfer, and more arrived at Crystal the morning of day two to join in the fray. By now, the assembled riders had spent some time sussing out the situation and wasted no time honing in on features Tuesday morning. Right off the bat, the Diamond Peak transfer jump at the top of the rider's right-hand lane had a packed line up of boarders dropping one after another into the massive right-to-left gap while others executed knuckle tricks over the left side landing. Matt Wainhouse, Ethan Morgan, Brandon Davis, Sy Moran, Tyler Vallieres, Grant Giller, Stefan Krumm, Miles Fallon and Mikey Ciccarelli sent the transfer while Austin Hironaka, Keegan Hosefros and plenty more were dragging hands over the knuckle. Valentino Guseli stepped up and launched the jump sans transfer, sending 95-feet to the landing, no problem. After that, it was Rob Knab who ended the session when he stomped the landing of the transfer on a snowskate.
After a heavy morning session, the majority of the crews scattered to get clips all over the hill. Denver Orr, Dylan Okurowski, and Keegan Hosefros started sending the hip built by Carinthia, with Brandon Davis, Benny Milam, Kyle Mack, and Niek van der Velden quickly following in. Mike Rav picked the hill apart and Jeff Holce gave tours through the woods. The 28+ft quarterpipe in the Springs zone went off yet again with Chase Josey and Ryan Wachendorfer shutting it down with the biggest airs on the day.
Further down the Diamond Peak lane, the double-sided transfer jump was the setting for doubles and triples—of crews, as opposed to corks—for much of the afternoon. Josh Nucci and Jack Wiley kicked off the over-under with a rodeo and frontboard pretzel, respectively. Matt Shaffer and Nate Haust and Sean FitzSimons and Shane Chappell backed up Josh and Jack with doubles of their own. Nial Romanek went solo and sent the rare and appropriately serendipitous crystal method from rider's left to right. Luke Lund, Walker Murphy, and Justin Phipps honed in on the rail running down the channel and kicked off a session there that lasted nearly the rest of the day. Phipps shut down the session with a mental gap-to-boardslide from the jump that will be in the day 2 video, so stay tuned.
Between the laps, Mary Walsh caught up with Crystal local and pro rider Blair Habenicht. Before his celebrated parts with Absinthe films, Think Thank, Volcom and most recently Kamikazu, Habenicht was lapping the Cascades as a 2-year-old, staying in the same condo complex with his family that is currently hosting riders for Superpark 22.
You grew up riding at Crystal. How old were you when you started snowboarding here and role has the mountain had in your life?
I started skiing here at two and I started snowboarding here at 12. This mountain's meant everything to me—it's probably my biggest teacher. My family came here every weekend my whole childhood, rain or snow—that's the northwest style: take whatever you get. So to see Superpark come to Crystal, for me, well—Crystal is a freeride mecca. Top-to-bottom on a powder day, it gets no better in Washington, but we never had a park presence really whatsoever. Maybe 15 or 20 years ago, I remember some caveman-ish, hand-dug features, which were awesome back then, but they were just little blips. At one point there was a halfpipe for a year and then it was gone. I think it had been at least fifteen years before Alterra bought Crystal last year, that we'd had a snowboard park. This year, Alterra came in and immediately Crystal pushed up three jumps, which was a great start to bringing park riding here. Washington is the kind of place where you don't need a park, necessarily; we get so much snow and there's so many natural features. I mean, the best park you could ever build at Crystal would still not trump its natural terrain. That said, it would be so awesome to see this continue because there's not always powder and a park gives skiers and snowboarder alike an opportunity to progress when it doesn't snow two feet and you can't go and ride that line you've been looking at. I'm really excited to see what happens in the future at Crystal.
It was interesting talking to people yesterday because it seemed that even for riders local to Washington, a lot of them haven't been to Crystal or had been only once before. Everyone has been looking around and admiring the terrain.
It's really been a skier's mountain for a long time, which I have loved my whole life as a snowboarder because the skiers take their line and they're not seeking out all those waves. Crystal is huge and it stays wide open on a powder day. This is the biggest resort in Washington, hands down. It's the most expansive terrain and has the most vertical of any place in Washington. You can get 2500-foot tree runs. And it holds snow like no other. I mean, that's one of the reasons that Superpark is at Crystal because there's so much snow late in the season here. I've skied here in July. So, Crystal has a lot to offer. It's really awesome to have Superpark here and show everyone the park that can be built here and also for people who have never been here to not only see this great park, but I've heard so many people look around and go, "I want to come back here on a powder day."
Any local knowledge you can share of zones not to miss if someone comes back mid-winter?
If you come here mid-winter and the gates open, go up chair 6 and hike The King. It takes 20-25 minutes and it is an exceptional freeride run. I mean, that's just one of the gems. There's also the North Back. We had a whole north backcountry and then they put a chairlift in there ten years ago. Like I said, this mountain is huge, so if you get here on a powder day, preferably mid-week, a lot of these zones will get a little bit of traffic off the bat and then they just go empty and there's so much to find. You can explore this place forever.
Huge thanks again to Crystal for having us and remember to keep an eye out for more dropping right here all week from SUPERPARK 22!